Last week I took a quick trip to City Plaza in downtown Raleigh to check out the Winterfest ice skating rink. I always enjoy visiting this area of downtown this time of year. Especially at night when Fayetteville Street is decorated with wreaths and colored lights illuminate the plaza. The Christmas tree is lit and you can watch families enjoy skating on a real outdoor ice rink. City Plaza is where I got my start playing Christmas Carols on my trombone. I play other places around the city now, but I still like to return to the plaza a few nights each season to play.
I’ve actually never skated downtown, but there is still plenty of time to give it a try. The Winterfest ice skating rink is open through January 31st and it costs $10 to skate (includes skate rental). I suggest visiting on a weeknight as from what I’ve seen it tends to be less crowded on the ice. They also do a “Two for Tuesday” special when you can buy one skating ticket and get one FREE (excluding December 22, 29 and January 19). To view rink hours and more information visit the official Winterfest website.
This weekend marks the return of Raleigh’s outdoor ice skating rink (The AT&T Raleigh Winterfest Rink) after a it’s successful inagural run back duing the winter of 2009. The rink is located in the Downtown Raleigh City-Plaza across from the Marriot Hotel along the southern tip of Fayetteville Street. The opening of the rink kicks off with an all day celebration on Saturday December 4th from 4-10pm.
The grand opening event on Saturday will feature performances by two headliners, Jaron and the Long Road to Love and Christian Kane along with a special holiday performance by The Embers. These performances along with acts from local choirs and bands, dance groups and a multitude of other entertainers, a visit by Santa Claus, carriage and carousel rides and a dazzling holiday tree will be featured in a half-hour long holiday special on ABC11. A schedule of the December 4th performances is posted on the winterfest website here. This free kickoff event will be followed by two months of additional programming.
Last year there were several nightly events throughout the month of December including musical performances, movie nights, and sledding (provided by snow my yard). Check the winterfest website for future updates, but right now they have sledding events listed for 12/19, 1/9, and 1/16 from 12-4pm each day. As I recall, the sledding is included in the price you pay for skating on the rink. You can view some other great photos from last year’s kickoff to winterfest on Luster Studio’s Facebook Fanpage.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out the new outdoor ice skating rink located in downtown Raleigh’s New City Plaza before it closes for the season on February 15th. The rink is situated directly across the street from the new Marriot hotel at the southern end of Fayetteville Street. It opened back on December 4th and will remain open through February 15th due to popular demand. The rink itself is 45’ x 85’ in size and has maximum capacity of 140 skaters. The cost of admission is $6 and includes the skate rental. I spent some time in City plaza over the Holidays and was happy to see the rink getting a lot of use. It seems to be very popular with families and kids.
You can check out the Winterfest Website for special events. During the holidays they had “skate with Santa” night and also provided live music entertainment and outdoor movies some nights. They also have regular “date night specials” when Couples can show their receipt from local participating restaurants to receive a $4 discount for admission for two to the ice rink. They also offer free carriage rides e from 6 pm-9 pm on date nights for anyone wearing their ice rink admission wristband.
On Valentine’s Day Sunday, February 14 complimentary rickshaw and carriage rides will be offered from 5 pm-9 pm to anyone who has paid for admission to the rink. These rickshaw rides will begin in the 400 block of Fayetteville Street and will circle around the Capitol. According to the Winterfest website, the rickshaws will provide romantic music, a rose, and a blanket to keep you warm.